For Fiji, Ever Fiji

Curated by Ema Tavola
Featuring: Margaret S. Aull, Torika Bolatagici, Filani Filina Macassey, Sangeeta Singh and Luisa Tora.
23 January – 14 February 2009
Fresh Gallery Otara | Manukau City | Aotearoa New Zealand

This exhibition consists of work from five women artists with varying connections to Fiji: from kailoma or mixed race Fijian, to indigenous and Indo-Fijian; from diaspora to local to global. The artists depict Fiji experience as enquiries into belonging and longing, security and militarism, miscegenation, gender and sexuality.

Detail of "Lesu mai III" (2009) by Filani Filina Macassey

"Lesu mai III" triptych by Filani Filina Macassey

Detail of "Lesu mai III" (2009) by Filani Filina Macassey

Fiji-born, New Zealand-raised multimedia artist Filani Macassey’s triptych, Lesu mai III is made of three pieces of Fijian masi or bark cloth, heat printed with text and imagery. Macassey depicts a repetitive and ordered mantra of ‘lesu mai’ or ‘come back’ juxtaposed with the first image of planet Earth taken from the moon or “the first time we saw ourselves”[i]. Margaret Aull reworks a recycled Totara wood carving to reveal her dual heritage as a proud Māori-Fijian. Macassey and Aull effectively weave out of intercultural tension a new platform that articulates kailoma New Zealand Fijian experience.

"Ko au from Bealah Land" (2009) by Margaret Aull

Australian-born-and-raised photo media artist Torika Bolatagici presents three works from her 2007 Security/Threat series. Juxtaposed imagery from Melbourne and Suva depict Bolatagici’s ongoing enquiry into the war economy, Fijian masculinity, security and the representation of the black body.  Security lights, darkness and rustling leaves speak to the artist’s experience in Suva city with its high crime rate and gritty urbanity.

Buli Vacu (to clench the fists to fight) from the series “Security/Threat” by Torika Bolatagici

Dau Butako (burglar) from the series “Security/Threat” by Torika Bolatagici

Whilst Fijian artists in diaspora articulate an experience rooted in and informed by the connections and process of returning to Fiji, Suva-based artists and performers, Sangeeta Singh and partner Luisa Tora present an insight into Fiji-based lived realities. Tora’s arresting and large-scale painting on builder’s paper, These Boots Were Made For Walking was created during a workshop at the University of the South Pacific (USP) in 1998. The Homecoming, a short film written and directed by Tora was also made there.

Still from "The Homecoming" written & directed by Luisa Tora

Sangeeta Singh’s 2008 painting, 4 Women is an homage to the movement that this exhibition has emerged from. The Vasu: Pacific Women of Power project took place in Suva in 2008; it set a precedent for contemporary artwork made by Fiji women to be recognised, valued and celebrated.

Ema Tavola
January 2009

 [i] In conversation with Filani Macassey, Fresh Gallery Otara (21 January 2009)

Artists Filani Filina Macassey & Margaret Aull

Artists Filani Filina Macassey & Margaret Aull

For more photos from For Fiji, Ever Fiji, click here

For photos from VASU: Pacific Women of Powerclick here

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